Today we dive into Meinklang a wine from Hungary. I went to pick up a wine a while back at GaragisteLV and decided to add a bottle while I was there. “What do you have that is interesting,” I asked Eric. He immediately suggested this wine. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was from Hungary.
My mother was Hungarian. I guess that makes me ½ Hungarian. My grandparents both immigrated from Budapest. My mother grew up with Hungarian recipes around her, and I remember my Grandmother speaking Hungarian in her final days, returning to her native tongue. So the fact that Eric suggested this wine was a bit of kismet.
It’s the holidays, and while Mom is no longer with us, today I would honor her and my Hungarian heritage. We enjoyed this wine with two of my mother’s favorite Hungarian recipes, Chicken Paprikas and Hungarian Nut Cake.
More than a vineyard or a winery, Meinklang is a family-run mixed farm. In addition to grapes, they grow ancient grains like spelt and farro and have fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and “meadows of wild herbs and flowers”. They are Demeter Certified Biodynamic.
The 3000-hectare farm is located within the World Heritage Site the National Park Neusiedlersee. They sit to the East of the Neusiedlersee Lake. The vineyard is in Somló southeast of the farm and on the foothills of an extinct volcano, so their soils are basalt and loess and are mineral-rich.
In the map below you can see them as #5 in the light blue of the Balaton Region The Nagy-Somlói region is broken up into 3 small sections that add up to just 533 hectares. The section that is the furthest east is where the vineyard is located.
This wine is from the grape Hárslevelü (harsh-level-oo). It is a white grape whose name means “linden leaf”. This is an aromatic grape although less so when from the tiny Somló region where it has mineral qualities.
This wine is made in an orange style with 2 days of skin contact. It is fermented with wild yeasts, and bottled unfiltered and unfined with no sulfites added.
Hazy with no sediment the nose first hits you with honeysuckle. Perhaps that is the linden blossom they speak of. Savory spices and mineral notes follow and then tart yellow apple. As it opens I get richer, riper yellow fruit.
In my mouth, it’s zestier than I anticipated, with bright acid and almost an effervescent feel. I start to notice nutty notes, cider, and perhaps fresh-cut wood. This is the perfect white wine to enjoy by the fire.
I loved it when my mother would make Chicken Paprikas when I was a child. The kitchen smelled delicious as it simmered away and I loved the dumplings. I made these by the spoonful, but if you want you can make them smaller like the traditional Nokedli. I remember my Mom standing over the pot of boiling salted water with the dough on a cutting board, cutting away pieces and letting them drop into the pot.
This recipe I made with chicken thighs and it cooks in a dutch oven. The dumplings are made on the side and then stirred into the sauce and served with the chicken.
This pairing was just comforting. I think Mom would have been proud.
Hungarian Nut Cake, apricot mousse, and crumbled meringue
Okay if you have been following our 12 Days of Wine, you are saying, “Wait, that was Day 1”! Well, you are right. Here’s the deal. I tasted out of order and when I got to that Prosecco I still had Hungarian Nut Cake left that I didn’t want to go to waste, so…
This is a fancy plating of my Mom’s favorite cake. I tried to make a small bit of her coffee buttercream frosting and that was kind of a fail. Oh well. I created an apricot mousse to go with this did a schmear of the failed coffee buttercream, dusted the plate with a combination of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder, and garnished with walnuts, crumbled meringue, and sliced dried apricot.
The dessert was a win with the wine, melding with the buttercream, and pulling out the apricot in the dish.
Okay, I’m warm, fuzzy and nostalgic. I’ll leave you with a shot of my Mother’s ceramic Christmas tree, ‘cause it makes me happy.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.